SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS!

Wow! Too fast by half this year! I had a very busy week in Singapore then back here to Aus for rest/feasting and lovely empty time!

This is the blessed time for us-hot weather, cool pool and good books and time to dream. The interval between Christmas and New Year is like a special gift- no wrapping required-just enjoy the joy of time!

So I am escaping with numerous books and I notice that as this fiction section of my brain re-opens-so the ideas start to flow and I become excited about 2012-what does it have to offer? What can I offer this year? The image of the Magi following the star with the gifts is my chosen image this year-have been having fun making my overview of goals with this theme.

I love this “new” feeling to the year-as if the year is wrapped in precious fine, crisp white tissue paper and we cannot wait to unwrap and smell the newness and note the hidden bright layers to our days.

But-that is WAY too much sensible stuff for today-now into the cool pool to gaze at the dragonflies!

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THE WONDROUS SEASON

Yesterday I took my work to a cafe-I was in search of escape, good coffee and the bustle and wonderful anonymity of a large shopping centre. I always feel grounded in these places as I watch young mums with babies, kids laughing after school, whole families out to buy the family food, old people moving slowly and carefully etc etc. I start to get some perspective and realise the construction of the next chapter in my book is probably not as important or as urgent as I thought. Most people head for the hills for this sort of grounding and renewal-but I really can get it with a coffee in a shopping centre!

As I looked around yesterday I realised how I love the sights and sounds of Christmas-the ridiculous tinsel everywhere, fake snow, ever present Santas, huge, lit up  Christmas trees and shop windows with special Christmas offers and welcoming window displays! Everyone complains at the hustle, bustle and amount to get done and yet all around were smiling people, laughing children, carols in the background and a sense of joy permeating the whole place. Is it the knowledge of holidays coming? The anticipation of gifts? The knowledge that we can spend time with loved ones? Is it more? Is there a sense of the deeper meaning of Christmas still there? I was showing a child some Christmas literacy sheets I intended to use yesterday, when she commented,” I love Christmas and know all about Jesus being born”. Surprised, I turned to her and asked her, “Oh-do you go to Church?” “No” she replied, “I have only been once but I still know this stuff!” She then started to tell me how she had really enjoyed the Church experience (I had assumed most children were thoroughly bored by it), and it set me off on many trains of thought!

My parents used to say, “The Christ has been taken out of Christmas”, but I am not so sure. I think Christ is lurking in there with all the bling, glitter and fat, juicy turkeys. I am cautiously optimistic that we still know what this season is all about!

But-I couldn’t help wondering about the holy family and how they must look on with absolute surprise to see what we have made of that quiet yet amazing night when Jesus came into the world.

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THE FRANTIC SEASON

I realised this morning that it is well over a month since I wrote in here. Most educators suffer the same at this time of year-the frantic scramble to get reports finished, parent counselling, programs planned for the following year and pulling all the threads of the year together so that Christmas can happen!

We are all so exhausted by the end of the year and many teachers report the “time to get sick syndrome” where they fall ill during holidays as their poor. exhausted bodies try to recover and replenish!

I am watching this whole busyness cycle with a somewhat analytical and removed eye as I am preparing material for a time management course.

We are launching a new time management course next year and extensively researching material for this. I want to aim the course (and hopefully the accompanying book” at people who tend to think in a whole brained or right brained manner and not notice details-they often have a rather optimistic view of time!

I am painfully aware that preparation for the Christmas rush (at least in educational settings), needs to start in June! In many ways it is all about self-discipline and time-lining.

I aim to not say the word BUSY next year! In fact I am starting to ardently dislike the word as it means a mindless amount of activity that occurs to try and catch up with tasks that should have been started a long time ago! (At least in my case!)

To write this course and book I need to “walk my talk” and clean up my own act!

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EXAM SEASON AGAIN

So here we are again-exams upon us and worried faces amongst our students from ICE. I always feel so frustrated at this time of year-we have a wonderful STUDY SKILLS course with brain compatible ways to study and learn-but the very kids who desperately need these skills-so often don’t apply them. It is really all about self-discipline and this is something teenagers find so hard. I am thinking these methods need to be taught in schools because many kids find it so hard to arrange their study times and often have jobs as well-wouldn’t they be better off learning HOW to study during school time and then having 1-2 hours of compulsory study time after school?

I also get frustrated with the crazy amount of homework some high-school teachers give out-thereby effectively denying students a chance to revise and summarise course content.

I wish all high school students everywhere good-luck in their exams but I fancy it has little to do with luck and could be helped a great deal by some judicious changes to school timetables.

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A SAD SIGHT

I was out with my wonderful daughter yesterday when she pointed out a sad sight. A young man was emerging from behind a bin and removing a strap from his arm after shooting up with something.

I felt so sad-to be so close to him and yet so far from what was causing him to do this. How are we failing kids so badly that they turn to really hard drugs? Soft drugs have always been around and will always be used – changing slightly for each generation. But this is different- this is seriously addictive substances being injected into a young man’s arm to help him feel OK-to cope with this world we have made. So what sort of a world are we making for kids? Is it time we took a good, hard and searching look at this question, rather than simply discussing the “drug problem”.? Is it a “world problem”-could it be that we have made this place so black/pessimistic/joyless/crazy/busy/polluted that young people are voting with their feet and choosing to seriously opt out?

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EQ4KIDZ MEMORIES

I am just browsing through old EQ4KIDZ evaluations and tidying up files on my computer and have this overwhelming sense of having all those kids in front of me. Each one of them with their precious worries, ideas, ways of operating in the world-all the tapestry of emotions and experiences we shared together. What a privilege it was to work with these children.

And yesterday-looking through old photos of these children-how much many of them have grown now and I wonder if they use their EQ knowledge? I do hope so! Each course we do is quite a deep journey and I am starting to think nearly every child needs to do it twice.

We are now writing it as a curriculum for schools and yet the simple process of the 4 main modules has worked so well so do not want to lose that!
1. WHO AM I? 2. I AM IN CHARGE. 3. I AM ME AND YOU ARE YOU,
4. MOVING ON
I am re-drafting the parenting course to make it a little less cerebral and more ” eqish”-so the prents can discover some of the joy of the art work/symbolic rituals/dynamic drama themselves.

This last course I conducted in Singapore was very special as we worked over 2 days and it felt very intense. The children came together as a group very quickly and the parents were exceptionally supportive. I think we should consider an EQ4KIDZ newsletter to go to all former participants of the course.

I am beginning to see how the after course coaching opportunities are so important-these kids need follow-up and to know they are still supported.

This EQ4KIDZ journey has been a very deep one and I think in many ways it has transformed our work at ICE and well and truly percolated down to our academic enhancement sessions.

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DYSLEXIA UNPACKED

STATEMENT ON DYSLEXIA
We believe the use of the term DYSLEXIA is not helpful as it so broadly used and education experts have major disagreements over the exact meaning.
We DO believe that some children of normal to high intelligence levels experience difficulties with literacy development. I.e. they have problems with reading and writing.
We have helped thousands of these children to improve literacy levels and have noticed they usually present with 5 or more of these particular indicators:
 Avoidance of reading and writing
 Procrastination of homework and all literacy oriented tasks
 Poor phonemic awareness
 Difficulties learning phonics.
 Global, visual learning styles.
 Often well developed art skills.
 Poor self-esteem
 Poor handwriting
 Difficulty blending sounds as they read and write
 Often have trouble with rhyming skills
 Difficulty with eye tracking, convergence and focus
 Perform better when text is enlarged
 Often left handed or a little mixed up about handedness
 Difficulty with midline skills.
 Often talented with maths-especially when only oral responses are needed. As soon as written problems are given, these children lose confidence!
 Poor fine-motor and gross motor skills
 Poor auditory discrimination and auditory memory skills
 Difficulties with concentration
 Often have a parent who may have experienced similar difficulties
 Family history often has individuals who are unusually creative, entrepreneurial in nature but sometimes very disorganised and somewhat “global” in their approach to time management!
These difficulties vary a great deal from child to child and require careful, testing and monitoring.
Most children can be helped and can reach normal levels of literacy. However, in our experience, boring and monotonous tuition programs that simply repeat information, do not work well for these creative children.
The programs must be mostly in the educational arena (administered by trained educators) rather than emphasising ancillary educational services. It is only in the education arena that results can be properly assessed and translated into an effective remedial program.
They DO require repetition and a very carefully sequenced phonological program that thoroughly trains them for careful decoding skills.
They also need very carefully sequenced reading material and a spelling program based on phonics and sight words.
A program such as Brain Gym is needed to strengthen body-brain connections and encourage smooth midline skills and maximum brain stimulation. This is integrated into the Victoria Carlton approach.
We use our own Victoria Carlton programs at ICE. These programs combine all the above requirements. Her teachers are trained in all these concepts and know exactly how to help each and every child in their care.
The recovery programs can be taken in individual or small group mode and according to our own research, our experience the group mode is slightly more effective.
Victoria offers trains thousands of teachers in Australia and SE Asia in her methods and approaches. Early childhood, Primary, High-school and learning specialists from groups such as SPELD attend her courses and experience excellent results.
Victoria has worked with children with mild to very severe literacy problems for over thirty years. Her personally developed programs and approaches have led to recovery and successful school careers for children who had been consigned to the literacy “scrap-heap”.
She believes that learning should be enjoyable, multisensory in nature and should carefully build the damaged self-esteems of children who have experienced difficulties.
There are many experts, agencies and groups that purport to have the quick “answer” for learning literacy difficulties. (Often very expensive answers)
Unfortunately there are no quick fixes and these children need strong tuition twice a week over 12-18 months to make solid improvements.
The hard work is well worth the effort as strong literacy skills are a pre-requisite to most careers and lead to the wonderful worlds available in books.
Neanderthal cavemen with literacy difficulties would not have been disadvantaged but modern day children ARE!

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VISUALISATION WRITING

For some years we have been experimenting with visualisations to help our young writers to find their “voice”.

I was watching our children tonight-they were completely absorbed and seemed to just “fall” into an imaginative, meditative state!

We lit a special candle to celebrate the end of winter and then dimmed the lights and read POWER-FLAME (available on website from Thurs)-the children stared into the flame and listened intently.
When we began the 7 mins writing we always do after a visualisation, it was so quiet-these kids were IN the experience!
Some kids who don’t generally write much did 4 pages!! Best of all one of my most reluctant writers wrote three quarters of a page-what a cause for a celebration-this method really works!! It seems to open the imagination and help thoughts fly onto the page.

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MATHS

Why do so many kids HATE maths? I work with kids who never get to see how elegant, satisfying and fascinating this subject is!!! In a world full of uncertainty and random happenings, maths offers logical patterns, predictable outcomes and fascinating insights! The regular use of maths sharpens logic-maths intelligence and helps develop a sense of order and harmony for us all.

To awake this love of maths, as educators we must provide maths games, maths related art, “hands-on” maths so children can really “see” what they are doing and truly understand at a deep level.

We seem to note these problems with children around 8-9 years-just the time that children are often denied the relevant, practical experiential learning they need for a thorough understanding of maths concepts. It is never too late though and I note with pleasure our children at ICE on the floor with games and fun-all learning maths at all ages!

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TEACHERS

I have just come away from a long staff training evening and feel so respectful and honoured by my wonderful staff. I looked around the room and suddenly realised how blessed I am! Each person there represents an important gift for the children at ICE-our teachers give their love, creativity and skills to empower our children to reach their potential.
Teachers often lack self-esteem and do not realise their potential to transform the future by their work.

We are going to give some more of our REFOCUS workshops to help teachers realise their awesome potential
I am truly proud to be an educator and to work with such dedicated professionals!

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